Christians In Gaza Face ‘Worst Period’ Since Start Of War, Report Says

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By Diego López Marina

The pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has released a report highlighting that the Christian community in Gaza “is going through the worst period” since the start of the war on Oct. 7, 2023.

According to the report released on March 8, Gaza is facing difficult times, with shelling, disrupted communications, and food shortages. Sister Nabila Saleh, a religious of the Holy Rosary Congregation, described the situation as distressing but is grateful for God’s grace even in adversity.

“The little we have is because of God’s grace. The people outside suffer even more than we do, because they don’t have that consolation at this time,” she said.

Holy Family Parish in the neighborhood of Al Zeyton, in the north of the Gaza Strip, is one of the places affected by the intense clashes and bombardments. The church is currently sheltering 128 families — a total of 512 Christians, both Catholics and Orthodox — including 120 children under the age of 18, among them 60 with disabilities, and 84 elderly people.

An ACN project partner operating in the area, whose name cannot be disclosed for security reasons, reported that “the intensity of military operations increases” every time a truce is mentioned and that food shortages are at a critical point.

“Food is simply in short supply and it is difficult to find where to buy it. The Christian community takes every possible opportunity to secure some clean water and food,” the project partner said.

The food supply is limited to two meals a week and one loaf of bread every other day per person, provided by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem with the help of organizations such as ACN. However, the community must often share small portions with one another to survive.

Access to clean water is a challenge, and many people have lost weight due to food shortages. Health problems are severe, with sick children and elderly people needing urgent medical attention, which is difficult to obtain in the midst of conflict.

“People walk for long hours to get a small box of food, which in the end is not even enough for three people. Because of this forced diet, sharing is becoming part of daily life and a new Christian identity,” the project partner told ACN.

The health situation is also alarming. Children are suffering from an outbreak of a virus that causes nausea and diarrhea, while several elderly people are facing serious illnesses that require hospitalization.

Despite the difficulties, faith remains a powerful force for the community. Religious and psychological support activities are held, including daily Masses, catechesis, and meetings for healing trauma through prayer.

Priests and religious sisters, such as Sister Nabila, play a crucial role in caring for the community, despite being exhausted. Sister Nabila emphasized that, despite everything, the faith of the community is strengthened.

“They are all exhausted; no one can really experience what they are living. But with God’s grace, our children are now even closer to their faith than ever. It’s a very special Easter; we are closer than ever to the crucified Savior,” she declared.

Although communication with the community is difficult, her constant request is simple: “Pray for us, pray for the whole population to end this war.”

This article was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language partner, and has been translated and adapted by CNA.

CNA

The Catholic News Agency (CNA) has been, since 2004, one of the fastest growing Catholic news providers to the English speaking world. The Catholic News Agency takes much of its mission from its sister agency, ACI Prensa, which was founded in Lima, Peru, in 1980 by Fr. Adalbert Marie Mohm (†1986).

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